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IRELAND       DIARY  2

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From the south-eastern Ireland in Diary 1, I now enters the south.
4/8 2021.
 I head out to R700, which should be scenic. Well, it is nice, and it does get me to Inistoge. Here, an awesome stone-bridge cross the river, and it does make so many motives. When I have captured the most, the sun breaks through... I make a stroll in the village, and it is a beauty as well. Back to make just one more photo of the bridge, now in sun.

I make the minor roads towards Borris which might be a Georgian village, but it is nothing special, if you ask me. Quite some of the houses are on the edge of being ruins, the shops look desperate and only the enormous wall around Borris House with scatted flowers on, look impressive. I do the main street and a back-alleys, but fail to find anything real interesting.

I head on by the very minor roads, those with grass in the middle. The shoulders are tall hedges, the views to the fields real rare. The road seems to be crossed by cattle more often than cars.

Then I find myself in Kilkenny, and that is a treat! It is a huge but old centre, packed with colourful shops and people. Here are everything, but sun. I start at Rothe House & Gardens, Ireland's finest Tudor merchant's house.  It was build between 1594 and 1610, and appears real intact, except it is a bit thin in the furniture department. However, the garden in the back make up for it! Considering it is found in the middle of the ancient town, it is absolutely huge!

It is still the in 1700-layout, with everything from pretty flowers over Deer Tongue lettuce, Scarlet runner beans, Gortahork cabbage, Mammoth leeks, Lovage, Borage, Ladyís Bedstraw, damson, Sweet Rocket, Calendula, Rosa Maidens Blush and Hollyhocks to a orchard. A light drizzle don't spoil the experience at all.

While I'm here, I might as well make a stroll in the ancient streets of Kilkenny. The endless pedestrian street, lined with small and very colourful shops are so vivid, the large river crossing the city like a mirror, even the sun joins in! I have not found a souvenir yet, and been thinking of a Leprechaun. I try a single souvenir/gift shop, and have a chat with the owner, who end up giving me a perfect Leprechaun, from a broken snow-globe.

With a latte in my hand, I end up at the large and real well-preserved Kilkenny Castle. The garden is a huge landscape, where only the deer, cows or sheep are missing. I'm in luck; all tours within the castle are booked for the day. This is one of the few town I could spend a whole day in - but I don't have the time.

The GPS find a pearl-string of narrow roads, leading to the next site. I lean back, and enjoy the tour. Well, I have to stop and make a photo of yet another old stone-bridge. Then I reach the Kells Priory, scattered over a hillside. It was a huge priory, and the ruins are still impressive. Religion have always been a good business, it seems. Behind the ancient walls, a river cut through the trees, offering additional motives.

Despite it is only a bit pass midday, I have to find my hotel. Where the hostels are easy, this old hotel in the middle of Clonmel tell me: I can check-in after 14, and then: before 15! Further more, it turns out they demands cash. I get a key, but don't bother to see the room. It was a 100 kilometre de-tour, and I figure, I still can experience some interesting today.

I find Waterford, famous for their crystal glassworks, the ancient city walls and The Mall Lane. It is the old main street, lined with impressive buildings. Here are also an harbour, the river and quite some small shops. But like any other town, tractors are common in the streets.

I struggle to find the ancient city walls, but then I get the area, and see the old walls, embedded in newer buildings. After Kilkenny, it is slightly disappointing, but most towns will be. It is getting late, and I head out towards the sea and some recommended roads along The Copper Coast. R675 is nice, but fare from as coastal as I had expected.

I do a walk on the beach outside the village of Annestown or Bun Abha, as it is locally known. Irish is so far from English! Apparently, people are swimming here, and there are a cave. I pick some limpets and snails long with some colourful pebble. Then I continues down along the coast, but fail to find anything real beautiful. I find a line of narrow roads home to Clonmel, and start working. Day 3.

5. I hardly sleep at night, despite it is quiet and dark. It have been raining most of the night, and it continues in the morning. I head for the nearby Cahir Castle, and get there at the same time as the sun - and an hour before the staff. It is a real well preserved castle, but not as large, as I had expected. I do a walk around, and then into the little sleepy town.

The only vigilant inhabitants are a large group of mainly white geese, at the parking-lot. I do a walk in the main street and along the river. A sign show off to The Switch Cottage: 1,2, and I figure I can make it, before my meter runs out. Well, it was miles, and not only it is closed, I have to run back. However, it was a nice stroll along the river.

I figure, I might be able to drive there, and it will be open then. Well, I manages to sneak in, and make a few photos of the exterior. It is a real nice hours, and with sufficient staff, I could live here. I climb the fence, as the staff meet in, greeting me friendly.

Not that fare away, the giant ruins of Rock of Cashel are found on a mountaintop. I get some early lunch at the car, waiting for the rain to clear: And yes; "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes, and it will change". I join a guided tour, and learn a lot - to be forgotten immediately.

It is an impressive site. It dates back to at least 400 AD, with a well, A round tower was build in 1000, a sandstone church in 1200 and the huge cathedral - somewhere later. As it is located on a mountain, there are some great views through the round crosses, down to the green meadows with cows and sheep. Sun and showers come a go, and I get way too many photos.

The next site is just the road; N24, but it is actually disappointing. I make a patch-work of minor roads, and get to experience the real remote countryside. A double mountain range is hardly crossed by roads, but I find one, offering some great views to the mist and rain-covered valley.

It reach almost 500 metres in height, and here, the heather and ferns dominates. Further down, there are large stretches with grass and forest. Some oak, lots of conifers. And it seems like the Rhododendron really appreciate the climate around here. It must be an awesome sight in the spring!

I find smaller and smaller roads, and end up on those with grass in the middle. The rain is more consistent, and I head back towards Clonmel, hoping to leave the rain in the heights. I do a big loop around town, and here are quite some nice buildings, and of cause; the river. I return a bit early, but I have a Skype-meeting to attend to. Well, I missed it, as I made an error on the time. I spend part of the evening, re-planning the next four days. I was a bit ahead, and could fit in some more sights - and kilometres. Day 4.

6. I'm up early, as it is a long drive today. It is a bit greyish day at first, but that can change in minutes and kilometres. It clears up, as I reach the toll-road, which I follow for 100 kilometres. It is actually pretty along the motorway, and I enjoy the driving. Huge low hills with grass, plenty of bushery and occasionally bedrock.

I now shift from one medium road to the next, passing some cosy villages and minor towns. There start to be deep fjords, and the huge rivers have tide and bladder wreck. As I close in on my first site, the most numerous plant seems to be a red-flowering Fuchsia. It allies the roads for kilometre after kilometre, and seems to really thrive in this southern part of Ireland. Another pretty flower is the orange - eah... flower.

I find the little path, leading down to Drombeg Stone Circle. It is from the late Bronze Age, around 1100-800 BC. I have a chat with two Frenchmen, sleeping in their little station car. Then I follow the narrow footpath - through Fuchsias, down to the field with stones. I wait a few minutes for the sun, and then the sight is fantastic. Besides from the circle of one to two meter stones, here are what might be the foundation of some huts. The heather is flowering along with quite some other plants, and I spend way too much time here.

The sight is located around a kilometre from the sea, and there is a great view, all the way down the valley to the blue sea. Numerous cows are grassing on the lush grass, and I hear quite some birds. I wished, I had more time to enjoy life here, but eventually, I pull my self off.

I head further south, passing the little village of Glandore. What it lack in houses, are made up by plastic boats in the huge bay. Then I get out in the wild again, and reach the lake of Lough Hyne. Despite it is located quite some inland, it have bladder wrench, and quite some people swimming in it. Besides from the lake, I'm here for a trail, but I fail to talk myself into a four kilometre steep climb up the mountainside, within a forest, so much alike a Danish.

I head back through Skibbereen, and turn down the huge peninsula of Beara. Here start to be a lot barren bedrock outside Cappyaughna, along R572. Then I turn inland on R574, across the Caha Mountains, and that is a rare treat! Partly overgrown bedrock, some cows and sheep, waterfalls and one great view after the other. I have to stop in the middle of the road, time and time again, just to make a photo.

One time, I find a spot to squeeze the car in, and here are the most beautiful little waterfall - and endless other motives. This road was made during the hunger-period in 1847, just to keep people busy. The Healy Pass is only in 300 metres height, but is feels like kilometres. I have a chat with a Welshman, who have ditched his Irish girlfriend at her folks. Now, he have been exploring the peninsular for a week, and won't go home to Wales' highlands.

The sun returns, and I make photos of the awesome views and the flowering plants. The GPS wants me to return, but no way, I don't see the other half of this road! It is different, way more fertile, but still with great views, now to the sea, but first a large lake. I meet R571, my next site, down at the coast.

I follow it further south, and the first part is through a large forest with tall trees. Then the road reach the rocky beach-side, and the landscape opens up a bit. I follow the coast, now on R575. I try to follow an even smaller road inland, but here are only farmers, and the area is, like so many others, only known by its zip-code. The views are huge, but is is hard to get sun on et all, at the same time.

The road turns so pretty, with flowering heather, bare rocks, sea-glimpses and the blue sky above. I make way too many photos, and try a video: 1;30 minutes of intense driving - like I have done all day. I think this is the most motive-intense area I've ever been in. I make a few 360 degree videos, but fail to capture the magic.

I finally reach the little, but colourful village of Allihies. I do a stroll, but besides from the colours, not much is happening here by now. I might have done The Ring of Beara, but I'm not ready to leave yet. All the way down to the point, Ballaghboy is found - accordantly to my GPS.

Yet another great drive, although the landscape is not as wild. The narrow road leads all the way down to the Dursey Island, connected with a cable-car. I wished I had the time, but it is getting late, and I have 150 kilometres home. A local sigh show of to Moscow; 3883 and New York; 4950. On the way out of the parking-lot, I get a photo of the 80km/h sign on the two meter vide and twisted road - with hikers. And people are speeding!

I try not to make photos on the way home, but have to pull over at Kinneigh Round Tower. It is a tall and slender tower, right next to St Bartholomew's Church in Knocknagarrane. Itís believed to have been built between 900AD and 1050AD, though an upper section was added in the mid 19th century. Its hexagonal base makes it unique and it presently stands at a height of 22 metres. The original 16 acre monastic establishment at Kinneigh, was built in 619 AD and destroyed by the Danes in 916 AC, when they settled along the Bandon river. That ought to teach them!

I follow a line of medium roads home, and reach my new hostel in Kinsale at seven; way too late, the 400+ photos considered. I start working on them, while I cook and write diaries. It soon start to rain quite heavily - I hope is stops in the morning. Day 5.
                                                                 Time to open Diary 3.

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